Micro Center is implementing a guaranteed appointment line that vendors can call to quickly set up a meeting with the correct Micro Center buyer.
When called during business hours, the number — (614) 850-3550 — will directly connect the prospective vendor to a Micro Center employee who will take down the information regarding the product and put the caller in touch with the correct staffer at the retailer. After hours, calls will be returned the next business day, said Kevin Jones, Micro Center's marketing VP.
Any deals would still be finalized at the chain's Columbus headquarters, Jones said. The company will staff the service with existing personnel; however, it is willing to add staff if the amount of vendor calls necessitates such a move.
The company originally intended to supplement the phone service with a weekly "open door" when any vendor could simply walk into their offices and have a meeting. In the end Micro Center decided to pass on the idea because it could not guarantee the correct person would be available to meet with the new vendor, Jones said.
Micro Center hopes this new program will solve several problems. Manufacturers will have a simpler method of making an initial contact with the company; they will know exactly who they are to meet with and can prepare themselves accordingly. Micro Center will have a better opportunity to increase its SKU count and perhaps be exposed to new product categories, a necessity since the chain is quickly growing.
The retailer's newest location opened in Rockville, Md., this month, a former Comp-USA store, joining a facility that opened in Patterson, N.J., during the summer, Jones said. The chain now has 21 stores. These two stores are patterned on Micro Center's latest format, with more floor space and specialized customer service areas. In addition, the chain has interest in several other former CompUSA locations, but has not moved forward on converting them into Micro Centers.
These changes are having an impact on the chain. Jones said the privately held company has experienced double-digit growth over last year with comp-store sales up 20 percent, and most importantly the chain is seeing a monthly 30 percent growth in new customers.
On the product front, laptop sales are trending 30 percent higher than the industry average, while desktops sales are bucking the industry by rising in excess of 10 percent.